Today, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida (the school I did my student teaching in back in the beginning of 2015), a young man with access to an AR-15 and a ton of ammo shot multiple people.
So far, seventeen people have died.
Children have died.
Children have fucking died.
And yet, it’s still somehow not the right time for the US Government to do something about the gun violence that plagues our country and kills children in the safest of spaces.
And the thing that gets me is that it’s somehow never the right time to talk about this violence or to how we can do something about it.
It wasn’t the right time to do something about gun violence after Columbine ended with thirteen dead and twenty four injured in 1999.
Or after Virginia Tech was on lockdown and thirty-two people were killed in 2007.
Or after a gunman enacted his fantasies of supervillainy by shooting up a filled theater auditorium during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises where he killed twelve people and injured almost sixty others.
Or after twenty first graders and six teachers were murdered at Sandy Hook in December 2012.
Or after Eliot Rodger spent over a year training to kill effectively only to carry out an attack that ended in six deaths aside from his own.
Or after nine Black people were murdered in a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015 by a young man (a white supremacist) that they’d welcomed to worship and pray with them.
Or when forty-nine people (many of whom were queer and/or Latinx) were gunned down during the Pulse Massacre in 2016 and fifty-eight were injured.
Or after a gunman with a massive arsenal picked off dozens of people (injuring more than five fucking hundred) at a music festival in Las Vegas only a few months ago.
This shooting at Stoneman Douglas is the eighteenth school shooting this year and we’re only halfway through February.
Why can’t we talk about that?
According to a whole bunch of people (many of whom identify as politically on the Right or as Centrists, but not all), it’s not the right time to talk about gun violence when gun violence has happened.
It’s not the right time to talk about mass shootings in the hours after one has stolen the lives of over a dozen people.
It’s not the right time when teenagers are currently in surgery after one of their peers shot them in what is supposed to be a safe space.
So please, enlighten me.
When is the right time to talk about gun control and the fact it that our country is incapable of (or, more accurately, uninterested in) doing something about it?
Other countries don’t have gun violence on this scale. Other countries don’t have aggressive men murder their exes and their exes’ entire families on a regular basis. Other countries don’t have a tally of how many people have been shot per year as a regular and common thing that happens to them.
Other countries don’t have mass shootings every other day.
Other countries haven’t written children off as acceptable losses in order to pad the pockets of politicians and an organization that seems dedicated to getting guns into the hands of people that really don’t need them.
And really, who needs an AR-15?
An AR-15 isn’t a gun for hunting anything aside from the most dangerous game. It’s a gun for killing people and that’s what it’s been used for in this country.
And yet, the NRA and the US Government (who is firmly in the NRA’s deep, deep pockets) doesn’t want to do shit to stop people from getting their hands on AR-15s and tons of ammo even after horrific incidents like what happened at Stoneman Douglas today.
Because it’s never the right time to do something about the fact that the average US-ian can literally go out and pick up a machine gun for less money than it costs to buy a used car (or, my used car at least) and then kill a shit ton of people because they’re having an extremely bad day.
So I’d like to know: when would it be the right time to talk about gun violence according to these people?
Since the immediate aftermath of these horrifically violent events is apparently disrespectful to the people who’ve basically been murdered by the government’s inactivity, when can we discuss it?
When can we do something about it?
When will the government and all the “wait and see”-ers do something more significant than sending “thoughts and prayers” and mocking millennials (for some ridiculous reason)?
Today, my fourteen year old niece got to watch her peers (her actual peers — these were children she went to middle school with before the move last year) make frantic social media videos filled with the sort of blood and fear that belong in a horror movie — not a high school in suburbia. Today, my seventeen year old niece panicked because she was watching her sister’s peers freak out about a shooting — at the school that her own best friend is a junior at. Both girls have been crying since they first heard the news.
We live in a country where mass shootings are seen as normal. Where school shootings that take the lives of children in one of the places that they should be guaranteed safety are flushed out of the news cycle within hours. We live in a country that doesn’t give a shit about dead children. We live in a country where children may not come home from school because of another child’s grudge or because a former student has an axe to grind.
We live in a country where gun violence kills thousands every year and injures well… more thousands.
And yet the US government doesn’t do shit to stop the horrors or let us talk about them/do something about them because it’s always “too soon” and somehow “disrespectful” to acknowledge the government’s complicity in these violent attacks.
So please, someone let me know when we can finally talk about gun violence and do something about it because our children are being killed and being traumatized on a damn near daily basis across the country
Isn’t it time to do something about that?